About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 58-year-old Aspergic gardening CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

H is for Humbrol

Added a new tin of Humbrol to the collection today, well, I say 'new', it's second hand, but seems to be unopened, and, more interestingly, would appear to be a really useful, previously uncatalogued colour best described as 'Track & Chassis Rust'...bargain!

More mud-hopping finds from that strange toy strata in the vegetable garden again!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

H is for Homemade Home-casts

Following on from the less than common Krolyn aluminium comes these, common enough to traveller as they are sold primarily as tourist keepsake items, they are sand-cast in back alleys from melted down drinks cans!

A typical 'rural' pair of females collecting maize and bringing back...firewood? Sugar cane? A minimalist paint job in a pallet of muted, almost autumnal colours over a worn undercoat of black which is probably either ink or boot-polish based.

Also from Africa comes this necklace of tiger's eye lumps with clay, stone and other beads, featuring four home-cast animals. In this case they seem to be brass or bronze, presumably recycled from electrical or engine parts? The patina probably gained with a urine bath (yes, pee!), lemon juice or vinegar?

They may - of course - be hideously commercial and just made to look vernacular?

Studies of the animals, the two big cats (a cheetah and a male lion) are a nice 1:76'ish, while the buffalo and rhino are smaller.

K is for Krolyn from København

Garratt (data subject to change and availability!) describes this firm as producing 75mm aluminium Robin Hood figures, among other things, which is lucky as we're looking at some Robin Hood figures here, around 75mm's high and made of aluminium...which are marked Krolyn!

Beautifully animated poses, but the larger size allows for a greater degree of flexibility with sculpting than the 50+mm's of Wend-Al and Quiralu? The bow - obviously - is a wire placed in a drill-hole, but the other weapons are integral to the moulding of each figure.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

T is for Two - Boxed Hollow-cast Figure Sets

Not even a box-ticking tonight, just a 'showcase' of a couple of nice boxed sets I photographed on Adrian's table at Sandown the other weekend, what strikes me as a younger, plastics collector, is A) How little you got in some of these sets and B) how unrealistic/inaccurate a lot of it is.

Generic box for modern'ish 'Combat Infantry' from Crescent, is it just me or do they look a bit Scandinavian? The mortar is a nice looking piece I haven't seen before, while the two-tone finish of the tin-plate sentry box is less common than the plain red or green you usually find it in.

The Ranch Set from Timpo, again...not much in the box, two guys surrendering (?) and four fence pieces which together will make a compound large enough for er...a cow (not included!). Still, they were simple times and one hopes little Junior would have enjoyed the sight on Christmas morning...the glossy colours would have been a bit brighter 60-odd years ago, especially against all the dung-brown and pea-green walls of post-war Britain's houses!

But comparing them to the pre-war sets by Britains - for instance - still leaves you wondering...it may be that this was the smallest of a range of sets all titled Ranch Set, that was the case with the garage sets the composition mechanics come in, there were four sizes of set, with the largest having one of everything, the smallest; just enough for a scenario or two, in the days when imagination was everything.

Close-ups of some of the components, the shrub must have been a common piece as it turns up lose, quite often, while the tree is lovely, if needing fettling before it will stand up - I do like a good tree!

T is for Two - Space Tanks!

We like a good space tank here, we even like a pretty poor space tank...and when two join the fleet together...well!

Marked LP LB for Lik Be, this is the tank utilising the - probably Roco Minitanks - Panzer IV chassis. Often found also in Mikephil packaging and having various body-types, this in the 'Engineering' variant! Nicely scaled for gaming in HO or OO-gauge sizes.

While this little chap is closer to 30mm for figure gaming purposes, and while made in China (frowned at by the tin plate collectors as cheap shit), it's quite an early one (1960's - early-70's?) with a few plastic components and three rear-firing missile tubes...missing the missiles.

This appears to have been copied by Marx, in small-scale plastic for some of their play-sets, so must be an early China tank...or 'chinatank'!

Friday, September 26, 2014

M is for More Daleks

A very simple thing aimed at infants or young children having only about 24 large pieces, the box is not original I think? But the cover has survived as a 'how it looks' card, anyone know who's responsible for this?

From the plywood; I'm guessing Victory, as we had a couple of their puzzles when we were kids, a bit more complicated than this, but I remember an Indian Village with shaped pieces, including a canoe with three Indians which could be stood up at the back of my Airfix Indians!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

T is for Talk Like a Retard

I can't believe how fuckwitted I am sometimes...actually - after being diagnosed; it's not a question of believing, just accepting! I posted on facebook weeks ago that 'Talk Like a Pirate' day was due...then I go and forget the day itself! Well, I'm not going to wait until next year (19th September...bloody 19TH!) to post these - which I got especially for TLAP day, soooo....

Those of you who know me, or who have followed the blog long enough will know I don't rate poured resin, for several reasons; it's a cheap technology - that's usually expensive at retail; yes, its a polymer, but it's not really 'plastic' being more brittle than the 'olin compositions it's replaced; it's obvious at 20 paces unless modelling a smooth solid; paint's often a questionable...I just don't like it very much!

But...these work quite well, yes they look like resin at 20 paces, yes the painting is questionable...but the pallet works and they've photographed well (note to self, more all black backgrounds, less pale or colours), and they are quite evocative as a group. Clearly influenced by the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series, they are also a bit effete-looking, but it works.

They are by an unknown maker and I don't know how many other poses might be in  a full set, they all seem to have used the same model (check the faces!) and while I got them in a cake decorators, they were probably aimed at the tourist/museum trade? The two chaps with small buckler shields might look good in a Highland war band (where they'd be 'targes') and the animated pose I've photographed from both sides is particularly nice I think?

Still don't rate resin though...

Feb. 2018 - According to Peter Evans - who knows about these things - they were imported from China by a company called Elgate "...a few years ago...", so I'll add that to the tag list!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

RV is for Regular Visit!

Back to The Works , which if you are a regular here, you will know I might as well be the prime advertising agency for! Sadly they don't give me a penny for all the publicity I give them, but hey! These are from a few weeks ago, but Internet has been problematical recently...Voda-no-fone! [Accurately; Voda-intermittent-pricey-fone]

So, as I say a visit the other week, it's all ephemeral, eclectic stuff which - I know - leaves the purists thinking "What the hell?...", but there you are, I try to cover a little bit of everything, and this pocket-full ticks a few boxes;

Pencil Tops, erasers, Sky TV, zombies, moles, monkeys, media toys...all for £4.24, which I spent so you wouldn't have to!

Close-ups, on the top row are the Ugo la Talpa figurines (by Giochi Preziosi), these are a Sky (Italy) character, presumably now on the clearance warehouse list somewhere and snapped-up by The Works for sale-on here in the dis-UK. They are flocked with the exception of accessories and the 'oscar' (Ugar?), although his base is flocked.

The semi-flat zombies (Bluesky - who also made the spaceman topper we looked at a while ago) are hideous, and are only here for the sake of completeness, seemingly transfer-printed onto Identical cut-outs, I later went back to check and all the cards have the same three images and the same duplicate figure. The monkey climbers (also Bluesky) are also supposed to hold the pencils up, but their bottoms aren't flat enough, so you have to prop them-up!

On the same trip I found these in Poundland, a 'Lucky Bag' (Funtastic) with no sweets and some pretty poor contents, but...it's a pound

RV is also for Return Visit!

So, obviously I needed to find out who Ugo la Talpa is, now my foreign-talk is just about able to work-out that Ugo is Italian for Hugo which is French, Spanish...er European for Hugh, and then to assume that la Talpa is 'the mole'?

First stop; He has a Website - it's in Italian...
Second stop; he has a Facebook page, if you're registered on Facebook - it's in Italian...
Still Italian; A blog-page with the Range in Question

Ok...something to go on, there's only - apparently (I don't 'do' Italian!) - eight in the range, but...hold on...I've got an 'Oscar' and a Roman that don't seem to be listed...back to the Works methinks, they are my namesake after-all, I've got to add them to the collection...haven't I?

So back to the store...four more, no more! Thinks "That's OK, I'm in Basingrad tomorrow, I'll try there"...three more, damn, that's one at the full 59p! Reading on the Wednesday gave up another and I had the 10 from the blog I'd found, plus two others I can't find anything else about, tennis player and climber. Note how Sky gets itself onto three of them...didn't Private Eye have a running gag about that?

I wonder if (assume!) they are related to specific episodes, like the old British TV's Mr Ben? How many others might there be? No! That will do, they might be named after me, but future uses for 50mm, flocked, anthropomorphic moles who only speak Italian are as limited from here as they were several weeks ago!

Google had also turned-up Something in English

While I was running around the various branches I also found....

...a four-colour pen rocket, in the style of the old Bic multi-biro. It's a pen, with FOUR colours and a ROCKET!

C is for Clones

Swiftly drawing a veil over the previous post and the Scot's falling for the oldest trick in the book (exploitation of simple minds) - watch this space though, I wouldn't mine betting there'll be another referendum within the decade, if not within a year or two - which will herald the break-up of the UK...do you remember when we looked at the Merit Circus 'Wagon-train' and the associated Hong Kong small scale piracies?

No? Well it was way back at the start of the blog! I happen to have encountered a few lose examples in the intervening years, and having seen the animals attributed to 'possibly Marx' the other day, thought it was time to visit the sets again...for the card-art, check the above link.

The five figure poses and all the animals I've found so far, seems to be near the full set of Crescent (originally for Kellogg's) circus items, reduced to around HO-OO gauge sizes, the clowns being less reduced than the other figures. There is a pointing clown missing, and a dwarf with a hoop, I've never seen them in this set, but there are 40mm HK copies of the pointing one for sure.

The elephant is way too small, but then so was the original Crescent one. The Performing horse has no hole for the dancer (acrobatuerse? Or whatever you'd call a female acrobat, bound to have a name, the one thing humans are good at while lying to each other and destroying their own home is labelling things, sub-things and components of things!), who gets a little base to pirouette on, as the large-scale original did - in case you never got a cereal pack with the horse!

The other thing to note about these is that while the bases are smooth and unmarked, the colour pallet of the figures is identical to the Giant original Cowboys and Indians. Not only that but...

...the horse teams are clearly the Giant supplied creature I call 'Mexican Small', right down to the mould marks on the draw-bars, and the large finials on the side-plugs. While I've never seen a Giant circus, there is no doubt in my mind that these come from one of the factories that were supplying Giant with product.

Better shots of all three of the Merit wagon designs (one was missing from the carded sets) and the other 'puller'; a locomotive which was not a merit design!

As they come on the card, the four-horse team pulling four little/short wagons and the locomotive three long ones and a short one. The animals were clearly added and then the wagons thrown in a skillage for someone else in the factory to place in the blister, with the result you often get duplicates of some animals, or an uneven mix of short wagon designs.

Comparisons with some of the Crescent/Kellogg's originals and some Hong Kong copies, the Maysun ring-master is marked and came with the others I've attributed above, they are of slightly better quality than the other HK clones and may well be the 'original' copies!

Both the seals are missing their beach-balls, this pose is heavily copied - particularly in the mid range (between the two illustrated sizes) - and when I get the rest of the larger ones out of storage we'll come back to this set for a third (and last?) time. I've also got about half the poses converted to hold mini-candles as cake-decorations.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I is for Independence!

I don't have a say in today's vote...probably a good thing, and while I don't have the arrogance to think any post here would have made any difference to the outcome; I still felt it best to leave this post until the vote was so near it would have no effect whatsoever, yet I feel I'm allowed an opinion (McDougall's on one side, a UK citizen...) and would like to state it before the outcome is known!

I hope the Scots vote YES to Independence from the administration of Westminster (whether or not they subsequently choose to retain the monarch), in favour of 'sovereign' statehood, if you know what I mean...and I'm not sure anyone really does...

 Cherilea (left) with reissues and Monarch


So the first thing to understand is that Scotland is already a 'Nation', it is one of the nations currently making up the UK, with it's own flag (possibly forced on it for the purpose of making the Union Jack prettier!), so all the Yes camp is looking for is autonomous governance to enhance and 'complete' that existing nationhood.

Secondly; both nations - England and Scotland (I'm leaving the Welsh and all colours of Irish out of this, as they have for the most part kept a respecting silence on the whole subject) are mongrel nations of immigrants from across the world and across time from before the Romans, who reported the Scotii as being from Ireland anyway!

Anyone who watched the brilliant 'Blood of the Vikings a decade or so ago will know, there's very little original anything traceable, anywhere, some Pictish in the highlands I think, some Viking in North-west Wales and Anglesey, a bit more in Northumberland/The Wash, the Britons have gone, some Breton's still in Cornwall, there are shades of Celt, Irish mostly, about the place, and of course the Assyrian mercenaries...sorry; Auxiliaries left their bagpipes beyond 'The Wall'!

The above is simplistic and inaccurate (it'd take weeks to research every dotted 'i' for a post like this - I'm typing without notes here...from the heart!), but you get the picture, we're none of us who we think we are.

I was - 36 months ago - in the 'No' camp, but then I read a couple of histories of Scotland, and here follows more simplistic generalisation; The nations were first brought together by the Scottish King James, so you could argue that by voting Yes they'll be casting-off England, but actually he kept them as separate entities. It was the bail-out from the Darian Venture that forced closer ties on the Scots and lead to so much resentment.

The Welsh (thought I wasn't going to mention them!), who were conquered in a more traditional way (and also had a flag forced on them, so that both green and a dragon could be left-off the Butcher's Apron), have always been closer to the UK and didn't really want the devolution Phony Crony Tony B. Liar gave them as they knew their situation would be dire without being part of the grater whole, not so Scotland.

The UK is the last vestige of Empire, everyone else has got independence, or; at least - all those who asked for it, why should Scotland be any different? They have fought against us on and off for most of this islands recorded history, why wouldn't they want independence?

It should be noted that Cornwall is also a nation, with it's own courts and parliamentary structures, no oft used, but there in the statutes, so if Scotland does vote Yes, we just change the blue to black {Cornwall has a white on black saltire}, and maybe a bit of green?...a dragon?

They've also fought for us - Harry Payne paper soldier 'scraps' concertinaed together

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Everything I've heard, from BOTH sides, since day one has been either and/or; hyperbole, propaganda, lies, estimates, hypocrisy, political expediency, plain insult, emotive tosh or nationalistic flag-waving of the worst 'patriotism-for-scoundrels-to-run-to' (remember the WWI post the other week!) kind. And for 'both sides' read all sides; I don't know about you but I'm sick of so-called 'neutrals' coming-out in favour of Stay Together...usually after a briefing in Westminster!

Firstly - most nations who go independent make a half-good job of it after the 'parent' has fought tooth and nail to keep hold of them - for purely selfish reasons!

Secondly - You can't make definitive statements about the unknown, the Vote is for Independence, not a fully fledged, fully autonomous nation-state, ready for a seat in the UN next Friday!

There will be 16/18 months of negotiations (I believe there are scheduled elections for March 2016, which is a target, but the date's not set in stone), and following a democratic Yes vote in the referendum, these will likely be amicable, or as amicable as possible, which will sort out all sorts of things....including all the more outrageous claims and counter claims of the last year or so....lets look at a few of them...

Can't be in the EU - Already in the EU, they'd be separating from the UK, not the EU, Stay Together and it's supporters in Brussels can say all they like to frighten simpletons, but if it comes to it the European Court would correctly rule that Scotland (and the individuals in it) hadn't left the EU, didn't intend to leave the EU and therefore had every right to remain in the EU. Or is the EU going to pay out a pro-rata rebate (for 5.something million heads) and cut them loose whatever?

Can't be in NATO - As if NATO is going to let-go of some of it's best units in a fit of pique? I don't think so! It stands to reason that in the debates following a successful Yes vote, Scotland would get those regiments with Scottish heritage, title or recruiting area, support elements for them, some planes and helicopters (pro rata) and - in my best fag-packet maths - a few fishery-protection/mine warfare vessels with smaller harbour-support stuff. NATO is not going to kiss that stuff goodbye, it just isn't. there would be a fast track to fit the Scottish C3I into the NATO structure, and because once the dust has settled the ties that bind will be stronger than the shite coming from the mouths of Stay Together, they'd probably retain a joint role, or enjoy joint training with UK forces?

Nuclear Submarines at Faslane's HMNB Clyde - I would imagine that in the event of a Yes vote, there would be a deal, to hire/lease/rent the base for a number of years and compensate the remaining 'UK' for the cost of relocation...it's called Realpolitik, and it happens all the time, it's distasteful, but it's reality.

Banks/Money - I've never read and heard so much cods-wallop from BOTH sides in all my life...People in Azerbaijan, Alaska and Auckland all pull their UK pensions with no problems, the banks are mostly English in all but name; English customers, branches and funds vastly outnumbering those in the  Scottish area, those banks will sort themselves out following a Yes vote - they'll have to. The pound is as much Scotland's as 'ours', if they chose to use it, or peg their economy to it there is nothing 'we' can do! Finland uses the Euro, Panama uses the Dollar...see? It's a globally traded currency, and Scottland has enough of them to go on using them long after Cameron's temper tantrums are consigned to history. And again; they will be using it after Thursday whatever the vote, and a Yes will lead to  months of negotiations...everything prior to that point is just bullshit, and the media have made it sound like the end of everything!

Yes Scotland graphic

The Big Bribe - That Er...Isn't!

3 years ago the Yes camp had 14% of the vote in the bag, Westminster did nothing in their arrogance, and that figure got closer and closer to 50%. Suddenly - last Wednesday - the shit hit the fan and according to the tabloid filth; the end of the world was nigh! Devo-max (a curates egg is ever there was one, if there's a calling for that level of devolution there's a calling to give Scotland independence without a vote!) which Cockwomble Cameron wouldn't include on the ballot-sheet - was back on the table, embiggened to the MAX without any reference to Parliament in Westminster, which has had - mostly Tory - backbenchers choking into their breakfast Mine Kamp's for the last few days, swearing it won't happen over their dead bodies and why should the 'British' (read; Little Englanders) be expected to pay for Scottish (read; the 'auld-enemy's) deep-fried Mars Bars...it's not only a last minute bribe, it's a crap one that won't stand up to scrutiny, and will never happen!!! Jesus save us from the establishment, they're as thick as pig-shit, if not thicker, but they're in power...and doing stuff...that effects lives...

...two weeks ago a poll also found 60% of the English believe Westminster should punish the Scots if they vote No.

Yes Campaign graphic

I could go on, and on and on; the stuff in the papers in the last few days, the provable bias of the BBC, the execrable little Stay Together shit on the World service last night, throwing bile at everyone including the listeners...but you get the picture...it's all rubbish, untried, untested "our view is the only view" rubbish. I will just look at one recent piece...In tonight's Evening Standard there was a scare story about mass job-losses at the Scottish tax office...as if Scotland wouldn't need its own tax facilities! Risible junk, from a paper I used to admire...in the '80's!

Britain is broken, Scotland can be a very successful Independent State, and in voting Yes to do so can help concentrate minds in Westminster and Brussels to the way Corporate Capital is usurping democracy. Smaller poorer nations have managed independence with no problems to speak of, and Toyota, Mercedes, Microsoft or Google don't care where the lines are on the map.

Hong Kong - after Britians

Ponderings from my Facebook 'Wall' the last few days...

150-odd nations have gained Independence since 1945 (or something like that - can't beat an uneducated generalisation!), most have made a reasonable job of it, some with a new currency, some with a pegged currency...no reason why Scotland can't!

Vote Yes, yes, yes...London will enslave us all in the name of profit!

Voting to retain the UK for historical reasons or love of the flag...is the worst reason there is (it means you're probably over 45 and averse to change!). All the other reasons (pro and con) are lies, hollow threats & promises or other forms of propaganda, you won't know until you try...but it's gotta be better to NOT be part of someone else's little empire...gotta-be! Vote YES for nationhood!

Being a realist I know it's all down to the undecided's, the recently registered and whether the youngsters will A) turn-up and B) vote rather than spoiling the ballot with a Simpson's/TOWIE/Hunger Games quote!

Every time the ruling elite issues a threat the 'Yes' vote goes up, it really is like watching a train wreak in slow motion...good luck Scot-land!

We're weaker every day, global corporate interests are consuming what's left of democracy, TTIP will end government by the people without the people being asked, and where you've drawn the lines on the map makes no difference to Toyota, Cadbury or Microsoft.

Why would they want 'clout', they want to govern themselves, as 5 million Scots, not a forgotten administrative rump of greedy London! Tiny little nations make up the bulk of the worlds nations, and the power of the 'big boys' has done nothing but harm for centuries, not having clout means you can't fund terrorism, start wars, rip-off Sierra Leone, steal your neighbours land...give them FREEDOM!

You get the same thing with discussions on expanding Heathrow, taxing bankers, mansions etc..."we'll all go somewhere else", yet Norway, which has the highest tax (and highest levels of social infrastructure) suffers no brain-drain, no wealth drain and continues to remain a beacon of socially-responsible democracy. It's also used it's oil revenue to build a Sovereign Wealth Fund of billions (hundreds of billions), while we've wasted all ours preparing state assets for sell-off and destroying the organisation of the workers, without even lowering tax to reflect the loss of those assets and their associate costs...because we're still subsidising them to ensure the private owners make a profit!

Remember - London gets up to 100% more per head for some things (roads) and considerably more per head for everything than any other area, region of municipality in the UK, every minute of every day!

"You get what you deserve", lets hope they vote for something else! The UK is the last vestige of Empire, if Luxembourg can manage independence so can Essex!

Good Luck, yer Highland Reavers, you! Send the world a message...self determination along cultural lines, whatever's on the map! Cadburycolavagencorp don't care where the boarders are on the map, they'll still top up their drinks machines, open their show-rooms and sell you their sugary-shite!

So far; the only person jailed for intimidation (or fined? or whatever...up before the Beak anyways!) was a 'stay together' supporter!

Just listened to a really biased 'debate' on currency on the World Service #lying #BBC, where some fatuous git from Landaan Town was allowed to sarcastically shout at the interviewer, the Scots independence rep and the entire listener-ship, while the Scots guy got about a fifth of the air-time to speak calmly and patiently while knocking down every establishment lie!

I just prey the Scots see the last minute bribes (not available to the postal voters, so technically; 'gerrymandering') for what they are...BRIBES, and vote YES to independence....

Vote 'yes' and you might save Europe (and the UK) from themselves...vote 'no' and TTIP will sell 2000 years of striving for betterment to Cokapepsicorp for a pound!

Is that a picture of a biased #lying #BBC reporter....I'm getting sick of pictures of biased #lying #BBC reporters!

I stick two fingers up to the Sun every time I see it and I haven't been polled yet! Freedom and independence for the existing nation of Scotland - common sense!

The thing to emphasise at the polling stations tomorrow is - most independent countries make a good job of it...but MORE importantly...all 'Parent' countries fought to prevent that independence - for purely selfish reasons...with lies!


I think that Better Together may just scrape in, but if they do; it won't change anything. Indeed it may make things much worse, both sides of the boarder, but one lives in hope. Hope that the people of Scotland will chose the 'Yes' path of a community based on local cultural ties, not the dictates of faceless cockwombles in Westminster. The hope that those same cockwombles might just realise they've gone too far and need to listen to all of the people, more of the time, the hope...hopes....

Bit scrappy, but I've rather thrown it together, and there are some nice pictures of toy soldiers for those of you with your heads in the sand!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

T is - of course - for Toy Soldiers!

Quick box-ticker tonight, photographed on Adrian's Mercator Trading table at Sandown Park this weekend, possibly my favourite figures by this brand.

The 'Toy Town' range of toy soldiers from the British company Wend-Al, manufactured in aluminium, a hard wearing material that didn't reproduce detail well. The French company Quiralu, (who would - later - as a plastics company add an 'x' to read; Quiralux) used these moulds as well, but reversed the paint with blue jackets and red trousers in the French-colonial style.